French farmers to stage refinery blockade

Workers blocking the access of French oil giant Total’s La Mede refinery in Chateauneuf-les-Martigues France

Workers blocking the access of French oil giant Total’s La Mede refinery in Chateauneuf-les-Martigues France

Trade unions and farmer groups in France are blocking today a total of 14 refineries and fuel tanks across the country in protest against government policy in the sector, which they consider "incoherent".

The refinery protests in France also illustrate a souring relationship between farmers in the EU's biggest agricultural producer and the government of President Emmanuel Macron.

"We're not against imports. but for consumers, we want the government to be consistent and apply the same rules to imports, otherwise French agriculture will disappear", said Samuel Vandaele of the Young Farmers' union outside a Total refinery southeast of Paris.

As reported by the Reuters news agency, French farmers had blocked access to oil depots and at least three refineries using tonnes of onions, wood and rubble on June 11. "Do not rush into oil stations, it is often that which creates the shortage".

Hulot had said a year ago France would take steps to restrict the use of palm oil in producing biofuels in order to reduce deforestation in the countries of origin, without detailing the measures.

All in all, 16 sites were blocked on Monday, according to France's largest farm union FNSEA.

Widespread fuel shortages were not expected, however, given France's network of seven refineries, 200 fuel depots, emergency fuel reserves, and the absence of sympathy action by fuel sector workers.

Besides a ban on palm oil imports, she wants the government to outlaw agriculture imports produced using fertilisers, herbicides and other products prohibited in the European Union as part of an agriculture law that will be debated in the Senate starting June 26.

Farmers fear that the move could negatively affect the use of locally produced oilseed crops.

The company has said that no more than 50 percent of raw material used at the facility will be imported palm oil, and that all suppliers will be certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil.

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